Now more than ever it is important to talk about our mental health. 2020’s theme is ‘kindness’, which helps reflect this current situation quite well I think.
We have been in lockdown for, what seems like, forever. I feel like I’m getting nostalgic for Brexit talks and discussions, that were always so uneventful. But now we face a new challenge. With coronavirus shutting almost every form of normality and sense of social interaction we find ourselves bored and disgruntled in our own homes with nothing to do but sit around all day.
The current situation has left us without school (I bet you would never miss it as much as you do now), friends, family and all forms of social interaction. Many are struggling with anxiety not just because of the lack of social interaction but through fears of catching the virus. This has caused many of us to feel lonely, anxious and sometimes even depressed. It is a normal response but that doesn’t mean that it should go without mention.
Mental Health week has also seen an increase of encouragement for men to talk about their mental health. There is a lot of stigma around men dealing with mental health challenges and the term ‘man-up’ is, too often, used wrongly. Mental health is mental health, there is no separation, difference or segregation between men and women. The capability you have to come out and talk about your mental health shouldn’t be based on whether or not you got a Y chromosome in your DNA. There is no shame in saying ‘I’m not fine’, if you are a man or a woman.
You might not have a diagnosed mental health problem but that doesn’t mean to say that you’re not struggling. It is a normal human functionality to feel sad or to feel generally uneasy on a certain day. And to put your hands up and say ‘I’m not okay’, doesn’t make you any less human than the next person.
Ways of dealing with mental health
Dealing with mental health can be basic and there is plenty that you can do which may help you cope, not just now but for life. It is important to work out a way that you can help yourself when you begin to feel overwhelmed by life because you can begin to feel happier in yourself and more comfortable with different situations.
This can include something small like taking slow, steady breaths to help alleviate stress and anxiety. By slowing down your breath you are encouraging the parasympathetic nervous system to introduce hormones to the body’s natural pacemaker which slow down the heart rate, resulting in you feeling calmer.
Distracting yourself. A personal favourite of mine is going out for a walk and blasting my favourite music into my ears. It might not work for everyone but it helps me to forget or come to terms with what I’m worried about. The fresh air can also help with calming down and the lack of Wi-Fi outside can also encourage you to switch off from your phone constantly buzzing. Reading a book or organising something can also be good ways to distract yourself too.
Face timing friends and family. Just to see a familiar face and talk to them about the troubles or worries that you have. They might be able to help or make the worry or stress seem not so big or difficult to handle.
Leaving your fortress of solitude. Leaving your room and going to where your family is, this is a good way to distract yourself. Help your family cook or clean. Get talking with them, maybe, they can give you advice.
Exercise. Try walking, running, yoga these can be ways that help you relieve stress and anxiety.
Use apps. Mindfulness apps and podcasts can help you to feel better. Spotify offers plenty of podcasts that can either make you giggle or helps you to understand that everyone is going through the exact same thing that you are. Fearne Cotton’s podcast interviews celebrities from everywhere and they talk about their own problems and show that, seemingly, they have it together but actually they don’t. And to know that people are going through the same thing as you can offer comfort to you.
You can also do so much for other people. Be that person that someone goes to for a laugh, for a chat, for a catch up. Because now more than ever we need to be there for each other. So pick up your phone, text that person that you sat next to in your English class last year and ask the simple question ‘how are you?’ because a simple text from you can offer a distraction for them.
If you feel overwhelmed and you feel you can’t deal with it on your own, don’t feel alone. There is plenty of help and support out there, everyone is here to help you.
The NHS website has useful tips and guides on how to deal with a whole host of different mental health and wellbeing issues.
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm)
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
And of course, your Guidance Teacher is always an email away. If you’re struggling and just need someone to talk to, someone is always there to help you.
Sources- NHS website
By Anna Lloyd, Editor-in-Chief